October 26, 2011

Governments asking for more Google data

SAN FRANCISCO - Google is dealing with more government demands to turn over information about its users as more people immerse themselves online.

The mounting pressure on the Internet search leader emerged in a statistical snapshot that Google Inc. released Tuesday of its dealings with authorities around the world. Google provided a country-by-country capsule of its legal sparring with authorities during the first six months of the year.

This is the fourth time Google has disclosed a six-month summary of government requests since it started reporting the numbers last year following a high-profile showdown with China's communist government over online censorship. In Tuesday's update, Google included the total number of user accounts targeted, instead of just the number of requests made by police, prosecutors, courts and other agencies at all levels of government worldwide.

Google received more than 15,600 requests for user data in January through June period, 10 percent more than during the final six months of last year. The requests in the latest period spanned more than 25,400 individual accounts worldwide - a tiny fraction of Google's more than billion users.

Google became a caretaker of sensitive personal information through its dominant search engine, YouTube video service and increasingly popular Gmail service.

The highest volume of government demands for user data came from the U.S. (5,950 requests, a 29 percent increase from the previous six-month stretch); India (1,739 requests, up 2 percent); France (1,300 requests, up 27 percent); Britain (1,273 requests, up 10 percent); and Germany (1,060 requests, up 38 percent).

Google also listed how many times governments sought to censor video on the company's widely watched YouTube video site or demanded some other piece of content be removed for reasons ranging from privacy concerns to laws prohibiting hate speech.

By disclosing how many government requests it receives every six months, Google hopes to encourage the passage of new laws that will give the company more leverage to deny government access to people's online communications and activities.

by Michael Liedtke Associated Press Oct. 26, 2011 12:00 AM




Governments asking for more Google data

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